French companies you probably didn’t know were on Twitter

The other day I bought a box of tea from the French brand Kusmi Tea. For anyone who doesn’t know Kusmi, their teas are amazing but somewhat expensive. And despite having somewhat modern packaging, the company’s history dates back to 1867. So you can imagine I was surprised to discover the company had a Facebook application – which I rather ruthlessly called “somewhat pointless” on Twitter.

Not your average leaf.

Not only does Kusmi have a Facebook application, but also a Twitter account – with over 1,000 followers. Next to Guy Kawasaki this probably sounds rather miniscule but let’s not forget they’re a 19th-century French tea company. I never would’ve expected them to pick-up on my comment and start following me in a million years. Kudos to their community management team, by the way. (PS: To anyone who isn’t convinced, Mariage Frères – an even older and more traditional French tea company – is also on Twitter.) And this got me wondering – what other French (not necessarily tech) companies were unexpected Tweety birds.

I spy.

Loic Le Meur was on the hunt for non-US companies with good social media efforts in place earlier this week. I thought to myself  “that’s odd, I know tons of French companies (and I’m sure Loic does too) that are good at that.” But they’re pretty much all start-ups and/or in tech. So I thought I would quickly test the CAC 40 to see if any of them had made an attempt at Twitter.

Get this: only 5 companies listed on the CAC 40 are NOT on Twitter.

You name the sector – construction, banking, telecom, defense – they’re almost all there (yes, I checked). I hate to single-out the 5 late adopters, but – if I’m not mistaken – they are: Total (wtf?), Vallourec, Vinci, Unibail-Rodamco and STMicroelectronics (there is an account but it doesn’t look too convincing). All the others – from Michelin to Société Générale – are on Twitter and a majority are rather active. Youpi!

The bigger, the better?

Obviously these are all huge companies that can afford to invest in a silly Twitter account – even if it doesn’t really seem essential to their business. It may seem like a no-brainer that they’d have a Twitter account, to follow if nothing else. And obviously, an active Twitter doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve got social media down. But this just goes to show – once again – that even large French companies that often get a bad reputation for being bureaucratic and traditional may be more malleable than one may think.

Testing 1, 2, 3…

In an earlier post, I mentioned that only 5% of France was on Twitter according to an Ifop study. Additional studies have estimated that around 1% of Twitter users are French. Even so, it’s rather pleasing to see that the larger companies didn’t hesitate to get on and get moving.